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Imperium in Imperio

by Cornel West Sutton E. Griggs A. J. Verdelle

Imperium in Imperio (1899) is the story of two men--one black and one mulatto--who grow up in a racist America. The dark-skinned Belton, a conservative assimilationist, attends college, goes to Louisiana to advocate voting rights for blacks, and barely survives a lynch mob. The lighter-skinned Bernard is traumatized by the suicide of his beautiful black sweetheart, Viola, whose dying wish convinces Bernard to become a staunch nationalist and fight for a separation of the black and white races. Both men join a radical movement whose aim is to establish Texas as an all-black country, separate from the rest of the United States. The narrator, Berl Trout, tells the story of IMPERIUM IN IMPERIO ("a nation within a nation") on the eve of his own execution. Tomorrow, he will be put to death by his fellow nationalists for exposing their radical plot, and causing the uprising to fail.

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